Charge or Fundraise? Raising the Question as I Experience One Answer

 Photo by  iam Se7en  on  Unsplash

Photo by iam Se7en on Unsplash

It’s an interesting concept isn’t it? Have you ever thought of fundraising so that your services or your product could be accessible to someone?

There are two sides to this coin. In the age of Kickstarter, IndieGogo, GoFundMe, Generosity and other crowdfunding and donation sites, we have plenty of platform options for it. But put that against the pressure to “know your worth” and expect that delivery from folks you’re providing services and products to — it’s not so clear what to do.

This was the position I found myself in last month, when a parent reached out to me with a unique situation that called upon my doula services from states away. I won’t go into the details of this unique situation, because that’s honestly neither here nor there. All I’ll say is that with the request in front of me, I knew there had to be a way to make a way.

In general, I don’t always charge for my services. Sometimes I charge according to my sliding scale, sometimes I barter, sometimes my services are available voluntarily — free! How’s that fair? It all depends on context.

How did the person/organization requesting find me? And what is their capacity to pay?When people find me through my website or my social media, most of the time, they have the capacity to invest in the service they’re looking for, and they expect to, and it fits.

Other times, with my doula services, people get matched with me after they apply for support through The Richmond Doula Project. The Richmond Doula Project is a collective of doulas that specifically exists to make doula support accessible to folks who wouldn’t have it otherwise. We recently added a sliding scale option for folks who find us but do have some capacity to pay. But the majority of the time, that’s not the case.

Is there another factor to be considered?Usually the two above questions are enough to determine how something will be paid for and to what extent. And because I’ve operated like this for over a year now, usually wherever we land works well.

But in this case there was an additional factor to be considered. Travel.

When I had a conversation with this parent about that, we were on the same page. She understood that traveling would cost me, and while she could pay for my services (through installments), she understood that wouldn’t be enough to get me there to be on-call for her birth. But she definitely didn’t have the capacity to pay my travel costs.

So were we at an impasse? We could have been. But, did we have to be? Did this have to mean she couldn’t have the support she was reaching out for?

“I have an idea,” I told her. “I think we could fundraise to cover my travel costs.” I felt that between some fundraising and the first installment payment she would pay, I could get to her, and the rest of what she paid could cover the services that I would provide.

Why go through all of that?

I don’t know if I’d do it for anything other than birth support. When it comes to birth support, I think, why would I not do it? Birthing people, and to such a large extent, Black women in particular, have to go through so much just to be and feel safe in their birth experiences.

If I know that this woman would feel that much more at ease during labor by my presence (especially knowing the impact of emotional stress on labor) and I know there’s a possible way for me to get there to make that happen, why would I not do it?

Honestly, I shouldn’t have to fundraise. Insurance should fully cover access to birth support. Hospitals should hire or reimburse for continuous birth support (they’d probably save money in the long run). Companies should offer access to birth support to their employees as a part of their benefits. This kind of support is important enough, and proven enough, that access to it should be woven into our lives in some way, shape, or form.

But we’re not there yet. So I made a t-shirt. And I invited people, real wonderful people all around me to buy that t-shirt and fill the gap.

And now I’m going to Georgia to provide some birth support.

P.S. The campaign isn’t over yet. If you want to join the team that’s supporting this, click here.